Category Archives: Books

One Seriously Bad Ass Botanist

Six days into a mission on Mars, Mark Watney is left behind by his crew during an emergency evacuation.  He is left with the Hab, in which to live, an assortment of research vehicles and materials, enough food for 6 people to live on the surface of Mars for another 50 days, and absolutely no way to communicate to Earth that he is still alive.  Mark was part of Ares 3; Ares 4 will be coming to Mars in about four years.

 Thus begins on seriously bad ass botanist’s struggle for survival on an alien wasteland.

The Martian is mostly told from the first person perspective of Mark, in his personal logs while he attempts to survive for as long as humanly possible.  What I didn’t realize from the descriptions of this book before reading it, is that it is fucking hilarious.  After many many days alone on Mars, Mark starts to get punchy.  His sense of humor is dry and sort of not-funny funny, which is perfectly on point for my sense of humor.  I was literally laughing out loud as I read, and I don’t do that when I’m reading Terry Pratchett.

Here’s a taste of the ridiculousness that comes in between the science, which this novel is chock full of.

“LOG ENRTY: SOL 61
How come Aquaman can control whales?  They’re mammals!  Makes no sense.”

Speaking of, this book is definitely full of science.  I had to go back and re-read passages numerous times to really understand certain things that Mark was doing to a) fix equipment b) create water/oxygen c) make his vehicles go further and faster and with enough power to go for days.  Surprisingly, this was not a detriment.  Far on the other side, in fact, it called to mind classic science fiction pulled from my father’s shelves when I was too young to really understand the science, that once I opened, I could never put back down.  It brought back Asimov and Anthony – even though their science was … less scientific by the time I read them, it still brought back that feeling of science being totally epic.

AND MARK’S ONLY A BOTANIST!

Seriously, Andy Weir – thank you so much for writing this book.  I laughed out loud, I sat on the edge of my seat, I cheered for the characters.  I burned dinner the night I finished it because I could not put it down long enough to take the shit out of the oven.  Okay, I didn’t burn dinner, but I would have, if the boyfriend hadn’t taken it out of the oven because I sure as hell wasn’t doing it.

So why are you all still reading this?  GO READ THE MARTIAN.

PS.  I’m super excited for the movie, but I don’t know how I feel about Matt Damon playing Mark.

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Is it possible? A Female Joker?

If you haven’t watched the last two episodes of Gotham stop now.  Seriously stop reading.  There are heavy duty spoilers ahead.  Why are you still here?  SPOILERS AHOY!

Evan and I finished the last couple episodes of Gotham last night and they were pretty good, considering it felt that for most of the season the show sort of floundered.  Batman’s a hard genre to tackle in a real world setting and I’m not sure they got it quite right for most of the season.  Until Fish returned.  Now she stank of Batman-villain and it was glorious.  Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

The point is as follows:  When the season started, I heard rumors that by end of the season they were planning on introducing the Joker.  So, needless to say, I had high expectations for the season finale.  Now, you’ll have to forgive me, we binge watched the last two episodes so I don’t remember exactly what happened in the second-to-last versus the last.

Barbara is kidnapped and in true Stockholm Syndrome fashion is asked by the man who kidnapped her and claims to love her “Who do you want me to kill?”  Via some police work, Gordon learns that they’re on their way up to Barbara’s parents’ house.  We see Barbara and her kidnapper speaking to her parents and she whispers, “Please.”  The next time we see Barbara, her eyes are totally blank and her dress has blood on it.  She is rescued, but her parents are already dead.

The creepy-ass blank look in Barbara’s eyes, this is clearly why they hired this actress, which I truly never understood before.  This was also when an idea started to come to me.  Was it possible that Barbara was the Joker?  Wouldn’t that turn the fandom on it’s head?  I’d away suspected that Gordon’s current girlfriend was being set up to be Harley Quinn and we know from her relationships in the comics that she swings a little bit both ways (Hello, Poison Ivy).

During the last episode of the season, there’s a mob war going on between Falcone and Marconi, facilitated by Penguin.  It’s a pretty epic war, and what makes it most epic is Fish and Selina Kyle’s appearance.  During all of this, Barbara is being counseled by Gordon’s girlfriend.  She is pushing Barbara to talk about what happened at her parents’ house.  She wants Barbara to talk out her problems, when it turns out that Barbara’s problems are really reality.  She feels “this is the dream […] that [she] will wake up and he will be alive and coming for [her].”  Which the Doc interprets as an unrealistic fear – I interpret as wishful.  She then tells the Doc that she killed her parents.  I believe that she had fallen in love with her captor, that he had turned her, convinced her that this crazy, murderer was her true self.

I have come to believe that Barbara could be the Joker!  That it would be a truly awesome turn.  It would, as I stated previously, turn the entire fandom on it’s head.  But!  Imagine the merch!  Imagine the cosplay!   If they do it correctly, imagine the most epic female villain in the entire Batman universe!  Joker has always played chaotic evil, what would be more chaotic than to change his evil persona to her evil persona.  I would be truly excited to see the next season.  It could give the show the character that it so badly needs – it could give the show the direction that it needs to continue.  Or it could crash and burn.  But I would truly love to see that.  It would be an amazing experiment in making the Joker longer living – what if he’s not a single man, but the mantle is passed down from crazy to crazy?  What if this time it’s a woman?  Joker’s so mutilated that it’s impossible or should be to truly identify even the gender of the Joker.  Especially since Gotham‘s sort of kind of in modern times with possible facial recognition?  Is it possible that this is why Joker cuts off his face in the new comics?  Is it possible that he handed his mantle to a woman?

Apparently I’m a conspiracy theorist!  JOKER IS A WOMAN.  JOKER IS A WOMAN.  BELIEVE IT.

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Dear Everyone,

How the fuck did I not know that The New 52 Batwoman is a lesbian?  Fucking awesome.

Love,

A Batgirl fan

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Happy Banned Books Week!

Unbeknownst to me, Banned Books Week began yesterday.  If I had known, I would have planned a week of bloggish things.  So, here’s just a quickie for today.

I scoured the ala lists of challenged books and used my memory of lists of banned books that I’ve seen over the years, and then I poked through my shelf of unread books and decided on two for the week.

In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ll be reading:

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

image yanked from here.

John Green in one of my favorite authors and a more modern addition to the lists of books that are challenged or banned.  I’ve read most everything he’s written except for some reason this one, and this is the award winning one – it is strange, even to me.

Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is another one of those authors that I adore, and yet have not yet read her most critically acclaimed work.  I actually had to look pretty hard for a copy of this book, which truly surprised me, considering that she’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner in Literature.  All of her books were easy to find, except this one, which I really truly was searching for.


I also picked these two books for their range.  One young adult book written by an average middle aged, middle class, nerdy, white dude; and one adult prosaic book written by an older, fiery, Nobel peace prize winning African American woman.  Both are authors that are often banned, but for vastly different reasons, and yet they both appeal to this reader.

So embrace the variety that banned books bring.  Embrace their message.

READ ALL THE BANNED BOOKS.

…And now I nap.

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Vampires Don’t Need to Sparkle, People

4.5 out of 5 stars.  A bloody good read.

For the past … some number of years I’ve been avoiding the vampire young adult novels and movies.  I figure the reason for this can go pretty much unspoken.  I blame the book-series-that-shall-not-be-named.  Twilight.  cough.  hack.  Even saying the name after reading the first two books in the series makes me cringe.  Vampires have been completely tamed, turned into creatures that can be domesticated as long as you love them enough.  What nonsense is that?  Part of what makes them romantic is that they are monstrous.  Dracula was romantic, but damn, he didn’t sparkle.  Gavriel was romantic in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, he didn’t sparkle either, he bled.  Thank you, Holly Black, for restoring my faith in vampires.

Tana is an average human teenage girl.  She likes to party, has a douchebag ex-boyfriend who she can’t seem to shake, a best friend away at drama camp, and a tag-along little sister.  One night while she’s at a sundown party, all of that changes.  She wakes up, after passing out in a shower, to carnage beyond what she can believe.  The description of the dried blood in the carpet crunching between her bare toes – definitely a winner and when I knew that this had some real potential.  Someone had cracked a window to let a breeze into the locked down farm house and everyone had died for it.  She finds herself on a roadtrip to Coldtown, with her vampire bitten ex-boyfriend and a slightly crazy vampire, Gavriel.

Coldtown is basically a quarantine for vampires. I adored the way that Holly Black approached vampirism.  She approaches it with a combination of a disease, an addiction, and an unlocking of the inner self.  In this world, when you’ve been bitten by a vamp, you are considered Cold.  This is when the craving for human blood kicks in.  Once someone who is Cold drinks human blood, they die and wake up a full fledged vampire.  However, there is a catch.  If a person manages to go eighty eight days Cold, without drinking human blood, they beat the disease.  Of course, these 88 days are basically like detoxing from drugs, except you have superhuman strength and senses.  Usually, once someone goes Cold, they bring themselves to Coldtown, or their families turn them in, because beating being Cold is so rare and difficult that it is basically considered impossible.  Once you’re in Coldtown, you never never ever get back out.

Truly, the only reason that this wasn’t a five star book was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  The gore was delicious, the people were real, the background was fascinating, the vampires were tackled beautifully.  However, for some reason that I can’t put my finger on it felt like the writing lacked passion.  It lacked some sort of spark that I kept hoping to find.  It just wasn’t there.

Overall, an amazing book that speaks volumes for the classically gory blood-soaked vampires, even in young adult.  Vampires don’t need to sparkle, people.

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These are good quality bloody vampires.  Good signs abound, no sparkling.

Thank you, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, for having real vampires in young adult!  Oh, how I missed vampires.  Fuck you, Twilight.

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The Hangman’s Daughter

The Hangman’s Daughter
by Oliver Potzsch

I give this book 2 sad little stars out of 5.

A few years ago when this book came out, it created quite a buzz for itself.  I think it was a best seller of some sort (national?  international?  who cares).  It was a book that everyone I spoke to adored; though I really had absolutely no idea what it was about, the mass outcrying that it was brilliant made me want to read it.  So when it showed up in the Kindle Daily Deals for $1.99 (or something else ridiculously cheap), I jumped on it.

It took me something stupid like two and a half months to finish this book.  Now, I know that this is a new blog and you all don’t know me very well, but I read way faster than that!  It was horribly boring.  I don’t know if there was something lost in translation, but it kept feeling like every time something interesting was about to happen they had to take a time out to discuss town politics.  Every time the hangman was about to start the torture of the midwife who was suspected of witch craft and murder of children, they’d have to go ahead and talk about the leper  house and all the families that disagreed with having it built, or the fucking wagon people.  I couldn’t have cared any less about the transportation business and yet I found myself reading about it and it ended up having really almost nothing to do with the plot line.  And the town rivalries?  Also had very little to do with the actual plot or how it was resolved.

Things finally seemed to get less boring around the 75% mark, and they finally were interesting around 80%.  Unfortunately, by that time I didn’t care any more.  The Devil character was someone I had been really intrigued with during the first month that I read this book.  By the time I found out who he was, I didn’t give a shit.  By the time the “big reveals” came around in the last 20% of the book, I didn’t care and was simply relieved to be having the book come to an end.  For a while there, I thought that this book was going to end up on a Did Not Finish shelf.  Luckily, that last 25 percent of the novel pulled it out of the depths of hell and only landed it in purgatory.  Therefore, two stars.

Now I’m going to move onto a book that I’m really excited to read.

Stay Tuned to hear what I think of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

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